Pesticide Use Enforcement
This division is responsible for the enforcement of State regulations dealing with the safe use of pesticides. This includes the issuance of restricted material permits, the supervision of applications and the surveillance of dealers, pest control advisors and pest control operators. By regulating chemical pesticide usage and adequately coordinating enforcement, the agricultural industry will continue to have appropriate pesticides available for use. Agricultural workers and the environment will be protected from excessive pesticide exposure by effective pesticide use enforcement.
The purpose of this program is to find invading exotic pests that are detrimental to agriculture before they become firmly established and spread throughout the region. The goal is primarily accomplished through the insect trapping program and field surveys. Most people have seen the small, white, tent-like Jackson traps that are placed in fruit trees.
The goal is to totally eliminate an exotic pest infestation, hopefully before a large buildup can occur. Included in this effort are the alligator weed, camelthorn, scotch thistle and pink boll-worm eradication programs. Exclusion is the first line of defense against invading pests, and Pest Detection the second. Pest Eradication is the program that's begun once a pest has been detected.
This program is intended to prevent the introduction and/or spread of those plant pests and diseases which may be detrimental to agricultural crops. As mentioned earlier, it is the first line of defense against invading exotic pests. In addition, our Department provides an essential service by certifying shipper's compliance with other County, State, and Foreign Quarantine requirements (which allows products to be shipped throughout the world). Our inspectors are Federally certified to perform this type of phytosanitary inspection and certification. The division also inspects nursery stock for disease (including Tristeza virus), as well as for weed and insect pests.
Fruit & Vegetable Quality Control
Tulare County produces some of the finest fruits, nuts and vegetables in the nation. This program involves the enforcement of State laws and regulations pertaining to packing, shipping and quality of fruits, nuts and vegetables. The Agricultural Commissioner also conducts voluntary certification inspections of fruits and vegetables which guarantees their quality, and documents that they are in compliance with State standards.
Weights and Measures Enforcement
This program ensures the accuracy of commercial transactions based on weight, measure or count through the testing of weighing and measuring devices, and testing prepackaged commodities for accuracy of content statements. A weighmaster and device repairmen are State licensed and their activity is monitored at the County level. Petroleum products are tested for contamination, gasoline octane, proper labeling and truthfulness of advertising.
Organic and Certified Producer Programs
The Organic Program helps producers, handlers and processors wishing to market their commodities as organic, register with the Department of Food and Agriculture. The Agricultural Commissioner may also conduct investigations of commodities being marketed as organic. Our Certified Producers Program provides oversight of growers wanting to sell their produce directly to consumers at a Certified Farmer's Market.
Biologists visually inspect crops to ascertain pest conditions. Vertebrate pest populations are managed to minimize health hazards to humans and animals as well as to minimize crop depredation. Assistance is given the farmer by sharing information regarding the legal and practical control measures available. Roadside weed control is performed in certain areas of the county in order to prevent accidents, decrease fire hazards and improve drainage. The department prepares and sells rodenticide baits, at cost, for the control of ground squirrels and other vertebrate pests. Predatory animal control is provided at no cost to the property owner.
Nursery inspections assure that the farmer and homeowner are supplied with correctly-labeled and pest-free plants for food production and ornamental use. It also assures that the nurseryman is aware of proper methods of controlling insects, diseases and nematodes which would seriously affect his or her stock.
The apiary program involves inspection of beehives for the presence of serious bee diseases and pests, colony strength (for optimum pollination) and compliance with laws, regulations and County ordinances. Strong, healthy bees are especially important for obtaining good crop pollination. In addition to the value of bees as producers of honey, many types of agricultural crops simply could not be grown profitably without bees as pollinators.
Seed Inspection and Certification
The primary aim of this program is inspecting the labeling of all seed packages to be certain they reflect the correct percentage of germination, date of test, purity, and not more than an allowable minimum of weed seed content. Another element involves verifying proper handling of certified seed so that it is not contaminated by ordinary seed.
Permanent crop statistics must be maintained by the Commissioner's office. This program involves gathering information, compiling parcel records, publishing weekly, monthly, and annual crop reports. Approximately 1,700 copies of the Annual Crop and Livestock Report are disseminated to the media, legislators, and business. These statistics also provide the basis of crop value calculations used during disaster relief efforts.
Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Control Program(s)
The department carries out very extensive State and Federal programs to control the spread of glassy-winged sharpshooters. This insect spreads Pierce’s Disease which can kill grapevines. Extensive trapping is done, locations are monitored, and both commercial (area-wide) and urban (residential) treatments are performed where necessary.
Rural Crime Task Force
In an effort to find better ways to combat rural crime, the County has developed a Rural Crime Demonstration Project.. Tulare County's Agricultural Commissioner, District Attorney's Office, and the Sheriff's Department, participate in the task force. The task force is an interactive team working together to develop problem solving and crime control techniques, to encourage timely reporting of crimes, and to evaluate the results of these activities. The Agricultural Commissioner serves primarily as a technical resource to the Ag Crimes Unit of the Sheriff's Dept. and to the District Attorney's Office.
Tulare County has a local ordinance that regulates the land application of biosolids onto agricultural properties. The Commissioner is the local enforcing agency. Regulating biosolids application helps to ensure the preservation of a clean environment and healthy, productive ag land.